Aerosol Products and  Recycling

Consumers want the products they buy to be effective, economical, and environmentally sound. Products that conserve resources and reduce waste are fast becoming the popular choice.

Aerosol Products have been around for almost 50 years, in America’s bathrooms, kitchens, workshops, gardens, and institutions. But how do they fit in with the new emphasis on waste reduction and recycling?

Recycled and Recyclable

Almost 90 percent of aerosol product cans are made of steel, and can be recycled along with other empty steel cans. Any paper labels or plastic parts are burned up when the can is melted down during recycling. Post-consumer steel cans-food, beverage, paint and aerosol containers-are in demand because steel furnaces required either 25 percent or 100 percent scrap metal in order to make new steel. Today’s steel aerosol product cans contain an average of 25 percent recycled content.

About 10 percent of aerosols are made of aluminum, which is also recycled and recyclable. Aluminum aerosol products can be differentiated from steel by holding them near a magnet; steel is magnetic, aluminum is not. All-aluminum aerosol products, once the product inside has been used up, can be recycled along with other empty aluminum containers.

Consumers should check with their local recycler or community recycling coordinator on how to handle empty aerosol prduct cans. Many recyclers and community recycling officials are not aware that aerosol product containers can be recycled, but a growing number of communities have successfully included aerosol product containers in their recycling programs. Consumers can help recycle more waste by encouraging their community recycling coordinator or waste management to accept empty aerosol product cans along with other metal containers in the community’s recycling program.

Both the Steel Can Recycling Institute (412-922-2772) and the Aluminum Association (202-862-5100) have information about the technology of recycling, as well as about regional resources for aerosol product recycling.

Proper Disposal

Aerosol Products, like all household and personal care products, should be disposed of properly:

Use up all of the product you have purchased. Remember that, because aerosol products are air tight, the contents will not spoil or evaporate, so you can use and store the aerosol product over long periods of time.

The best way to dispose of an empty aerosol product container is to recycle it. A trace amount of the propellant or product left in the can does not present a hazard in today’s industrial recycling facilities. The label warning against puncturing or incinerating an aerosol products does not mean an empty aerosol product container cannot be recycled.

If your community’s curbside drop-off or buy-back recycling programs do not currently accept empty aerosol product containers, urge them to include aerosol products along with other recyclables. Until then, empty aerosol product containers should be disposed of through normal solid waste collection systems and according to label directions.

Aerosol Products are Recyclable.